Residents Voices – Issue 76

Residents Welcome BUPTA Move

BULAWAYO residents have welcomed the move by the Bulawayo Public Transporters Association (BUPTA) to alter its United States dollar to South African Rand exchange rate from the 1:7 that is prevalent in most commuter omnibuses to 1:8 which better matches the current official rate. Residents said the move was welcome as it meant that they would no longer lose out on their hard earned cash through what they termed ‘a deliberate ploy by kombi drivers and conductors to fleece them.’ Under the 1:7 rate, residents effectively lose a rand for each dollar whenever they pay in United States Dollars and get their change in Rands. Residents also called upon other transport operators to follow suit as it is unfair for them to be using the 1:7 rate despite gains that the United States Dollar has made against the Rand on the international market. Tshova Mubaiwa commuter omnibuses are also using the 1:8 exchange rate.

The problems being faced with the use of a multi-currency system in Bulawayo stem from the fact that while most employees get their salaries in dollars, use of Rands is also widespread due to the close proximity of the city to South Africa and the influence of thousands of Zimbabweans from the Matabeleland region working in South Africa. The Rand and the United States Dollar thus compete as legal tender in Bulawayo, giving rise to the problem of cross rates – which has often been characterised as giving leeway for transport operators and other traders to fleece the public through altering prices and exchange rates. Economists have previously called upon the government to ensure that all business operators stick to daily international exchange rates.

Information Department
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association
Bus. Tel: +263 9 61196
Cell: +263 772 516 729

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA)

Statement on ZESA's unrelenting power cuts

Date:                     14 May 2012

Contact:               Emmanuel Ndlovu

                              Programmes and Advocacy Manager

                              Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA)

Subject:                 ZESA ripping residents off

It is indeed disheartening that more than a decade after The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) began its severe load shedding routine; the utility still has not come up with alternatives for increased power generation to residents. The utility seems to be taking comfort in that residents have, through their own, started to spend their hard earned and merger wages on power substitutes like generators, jelly stoves, gas and solar power panels while ZESA seems content with the same means of power generation as before.

 The authority recently announced that it will be intensifying power rationing to as much as 9 hours per day for each household this winter. The power utility has also released new load shedding schedules in some parts of Bulawayo, a reflection that the company is unwavering in its move.

Despite the increasing costs to rate payers, and some of the deals ZESA has embarked on with countries like Botswana, this seems to have done little to ease the power shortages and ZESA continues to blame everything on vandalism and failure by residents to pay their bills.

Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of residents are still on fixed rates despite a commitment by ZESA to install prepaid meters in every household to ensure that no household pays more than they have used. In light of this oversight, why has ZESA not been able to calculate how much extra money it is making from fixed rates of residents who still pay even when they go for long hours without electricity? Why are the figures always one sided and never reflective of how short changed the residents have been for the last decade plus years.

Recently, a ZESA power substation was gutted by fire in Emakhandeni leaving Luveve, Lobhengula, Magwegwe, Emakhandeni and other surrounding areas without power. It has been more than a week since the outage, but residents are still in the dark. What is troubling is that, come month end, these residents are expected to pay their full bills at fixed rates. BPRA believes that residents can only feel comfortable paying for a service that they are guaranteed to get.

It is time that ZESA and the authorities that be faced reality and accepted that the problem is way out of their league. New players must come into the fold before the whole system totally collapses.


Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu

Programmes and Advocacy Manager

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA)


Residents Voices - Issue 71: Police stop residents leadership training

Police this weekend stopped a BPRA leadership training workshop at Tshabalala Hall, confiscating attendance registers and training modules alleging that the meeting was not cleared by the police.

The training was stopped shortly after lunch, half way through the module, as police officers suddenly arrived and demanded to know who had sanctioned the meeting and why residents were being taught specifically on local governance issues and not in other areas.

A member of the BPRA executive council Ms Ntombizodwa Khumalo, who was facilitating at the workshop and is also the Vice Chairperson of BPRA, was asked to furnish the officers with details of the programme and its donors.

When they police could not get any satisfactory answers they instructed Khumalo to report to the police station on Monday morning where they further told her to come back with the coordinator of the BPRA to answer more question.

BPRA frequently holds training meetings with residents in all of Bulawayo’s 29 wards covering various areas of concern to them like the Environment Act, Gender Budgeting and Local Governance laws amongst others.

BCC Imposes housing project on Pumula Residents

Pumula residents residing at St Peters, Robert Sinyoka and Methodist communities have been left helpless after Bulawayo city council officials once again told them that 197 families from Killerney and Trenance squatter camps would be brought to live amongst them as soon as an International Organisation of Migration (IOM) housing project is completed.

In February, the same residents rejected a proposal by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in conjunction with the IOM to resettle squatters from these areas, sighting that they too have been awaiting stands from BCC in the same area since 1998. They also raised concerns that the project could lead to a high crime rate and conflict in the area as most people living in the squatter camps are unemployed and not registered as citizens of Zimbabwe. While the project still aims to settle 197 families, nothing was said in the latest meeting held last Friday (18 May 2012) on whether the project still aimed to benefit 15 families already living in squalid conditions in Pumula.

In the latest meeting addressed by the Mayor of Bulawayo and officials from IOM, truckloads of beneficiaries from Killarney and Trenence were bussed in to be addressed together with their new neighbours who were told that there was no going back on the project. Although no mention was made of what would be done about the more than decade long request for stands by the older residents  in the previous meeting the City Council Director of Housing and Community Services, assured residents that there was abundant space in the area and had also promised the that land would be allocated to them in the future. He had also assured residents that the people to be resettled in the area had been vetted and would pose no threat.

However, the BPRA chairperson for ward 17 said it was said that since the last meeting people had been cowed into accepting something the community as a whole had taken a stand to reject. He said this time the residents were not even given an opportunity to air their views to the mayor but just listened as they were told that new home owners would be moving into the area.

While Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) acknowledges efforts being made by the local authority to resettle squatters and commends its strategic partnerships with donor organisations in the quest to improve service provision in the city, the association believes that this should be done after wide consultations with residents. The association also believes that the council has been allocating stands to people outside of its housing waiting list, which now runs beyond a hundred thousand names, thereby leaving many residents who have followed proper procedures and put their faith in the council stranded. BPRA calls on the city fathers and mothers to seriously take steps to consult and engagement residents on the housing issue before it blows out of control.


Information Department

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association

Bus. Tel: +263 9 61196

Cell: +263 773 788 183


Ministry Must Consult Residents before Imposing Special Interest Councillors

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has received with apprehension, media reports that the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development (LGRUD) is at an advanced staged of selecting eight special interest councillors for the Bulawayo City Council (BCC).

The association is stunned at the patronising, detached and secretive manner with which the ministry has handled this matter so far, as no consultation was done with the residents to enquire as to where current councillors are lacking and which special interest areas residents feel would need special representation on.
Also disturbing is the fact that the selection of the yet unnamed ‘experts’ is being done by the Governor and Provincial Administrator, offices that have so far reflected a lack of consideration for non-partisan views otherwise always openly pushing forward the agenda of ZANU PF.

It is the view of BPRA that the Ministry of LGRUD has a mandate to consult the people before imposing representatives on them. It is also imperative that the residents are allowed to choose for themselves which areas need special attention from ‘experts’ as well as a say into which ‘experts’ are eventually selected for this important task.

The Min of LGRUD must understand that the residents are not totally rejecting the idea of special interest councillors, but the process in which they are being imposed. BPRA also believes that if special interest councillors are to be appointed, this must be done in line with the special needs of the city and representing vulnerable groups in our society like the physically challenged, women, youths, and HIV/AIDS orphans amongst others. Moreover, Minister Chombo must recall that the first set of special interest councillors where rejected by the residents of Bulawayo because of imposition. It would thus be folly for him to use the same methods as before and expect a different result.

Despite all the challenges and negativity the BCC has been facing lately, it is BPRA’s considered opinion that the BCC still remains one of the best run councils in the country. The Association therefore calls upon all involved leaders to seriously think about consulting all the residents of Bulawayo before imposing special interest councillors on them.